How to sharpen your woodworking tools with sandpaper

Picture of How to sharpen your woodworking tools with sandpaper
I was skeptical when I first heard about the sandpaper method. How could it produce a decent edge on my chisels and plane blades?

 I'm now sold on the method, but will not claim it is the "best" method, that will be up to your evaluation. However, it is a method you should consider, along with water stones, ceramic stones, oil stones, and diamond stones.

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Step 1: Why sandpaper?

Picture of Why sandpaper?
Few subjects in woodworking are as contentious as the best method for sharpening tools.

One excellent method  using water stones is already published in Instructables:

So why consider another method, and why would you consider using a piece of crude sandpaper on your precious woodworking chisels and plane iron?

Here is the main reason: cost. Cost of good water stones is $100 and up each (you should have several of various grits). And sandpaper? Less than $2 per sheet. This is not a fair comparison, however. A water stone will last years; you will have to buy many pieces of sandpaper and replace as they wear out. But bottom line is that the sandpaper method is a lot cheaper.
Second reason: Simplicity. The sandpaper method is pretty easy.
Third reason: For most of us the sandpaper method, if done carefully, will produce the sharpest cutting edges we have ever experienced.
i found a place near me that makes marble countertops. their dumpster is full of smallish peices of lapped stone, and I use aerosol glue to stick the paper onto them for this. Glass works too.
Bill WW (author)  Mugsy Knuckles7 months ago
Thanks for the comment.

I thought about visiting a countertop shop to ask for scraps, may still.
My wife wants new countertops for the kitchen, this is my opportunity!
cjs12981 year ago
This looks neat. I'm only fourteen and with little money, so I'll be sure to try this,
Bill WW (author)  cjs12981 year ago
I love your icon, the prism and spectrum. I have a couple of prisms. made a stand for one of them so that I can rotate it as needed.

Yes, you can sharpen with stones costing hundreds, or with good sandpaper costing a few bucks. There is nothing wrong with the sandpaper method, but the big woodworking companies can't make much money with it.

Be careful; most of my scars came from working with tools when I was your age.

Thank you Bill, this was really instructive and it will definitely improve the lifespan of my tools! :3
Bill WW (author)  iamthestatic1 year ago
Thank you for your comment, hope this sharpening method is a benefit to you..

You must have seen some of the 90 Instructables by Rimar2000, a close neighbor of yours in La Plata.
Phil B1 year ago
This is good and very practical. Thank you.
rimar20001 year ago
This instructable is very useful, Bill.

When I use my lathe, the tools lasts well sharpened only one or two minutes, despite they are HSS. So I glued a fine sandpaper disk at the base of upper cone of the variator, and now I can sharp the tool quickly without stop the motor, in 4 or 5 seconds. Maybe my procedure is not the ideal, but it is good enough for my needs. It is easy to replace the sandpaper disc when it wears out.

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